RSPCA officers use mobile phone camera to find and rescue cat stuck in canal lock

The cat stuck in the lock
The cat stuck in the lock

RSPCA officers made a makeshift camera to locate a cat stuck behind a wooden panel in a Manchester canal lock.

RSPCA inspector Daniel Tomlinson and animal collection officer Gina Ratcliff were called to Lock 89 on the Rochdale Canal Tow Path in Manchester on Thursday (19 March) after a walker spotted a cat’s eyes in a dark gap behind a wooden panel in the lock.

Safe and sound after rescue

Safe and sound after rescue

Daniel said: “A walker spotted the cat’s eyes catching the light in the dark sitting on a wooden beam just above the water level.

“Students who live in the local area said they believe the cat had been trapped in the lock for a week. He was in a really tricky position and we couldn’t see him so we taped my mobile phone to one of our reach and rescue poles and lowered it down with the camera running to see if we could spot him - and there he was, his two eyes glinting back at us.”

Daniel and Gina called in Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service for assistance reaching the frightened cat.

Daniel said: “Unfortunately we didn’t have a water rescue team available so we requested assistance from local fire and rescue and the crew were excellent.

“They launched a boat and using our reach and rescue pole we were able to get hold of him and pull him free before popping him in a carrier to get him to dry land.

“The canal was filthy; full of litter and hazardous content like uncapped needles so while we were there we tried to clean it up a bit.”

The cat luckily wasn’t injured. The young male - nicknamed Ripley by his rescuers - wasn’t microchipped so the RSPCA is now hoping to track down his owner so he can be returned. He’s being cared for by the charity and will be rehomed if staff can’t trace an owner.

“We believe he’s probably someone’s beloved pet who’s gone missing so we’d really love to reunite him with his family,” Daniel said. “We have no idea how he got down into the lock but he’s incredibly lucky that the water level hadn’t risen as he could have drowned.”

Do you recognise Ripley? If you know where he’s come from or who he belongs to please contact the RSPCA’s appeal line on 0300 123 8018 and leave a message for Daniel Tomlinson.